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From the Forest to the Shore, Connecticut, USA
March 12
Director of Change
An unnamed non-profit health care provider
Change is good...that's what I keep telling my colleagues. It's difficult and hard. It's challenging and rewarding. It's fraught with peril. It needs to be done...yesterday!


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FEBRUARY 17, 2011 8:10AM

How I cut the deficit and saved the free world

Rate: 19 Flag

Back in November, the New York Times featured an interactive webpage entitled Budget Puzzle: You fix the Deficit.

After watching the incompetence of the Republican leadership and Republican members of the House of Representatives, try to reduce the US budget by $100 billion in 2011, and do so in the most ridiculous and immature manner, I thought I could do a better job.

So went back to the site, actually made some tough decisions. Here they are:

Cut 250,000 government contractors

In the past decade, both the number of federal employees and the number of contractors rose. Recent estimates suggest that contractors outnumber federal employees by millions. The chairmen wrote, “While contractors provide useful services — sometimes at a lower cost than the federal government — their numbers are simply too high in light of the current budget deficit.”  2015 Savings 17 Billion 2030 Savings 17 billion

Reduce nuclear arsenal and space spending

Would reduce number of nuclear warheads to 1,050, from 1,968. Would also reduce the number of Minuteman missiles and funding for nuclear research and development, missile development and space-based missile defense. 2015 savings 19 Billion 2030 Savings 38 Billion

Reduce military to pre-Iraq War size and further reduce troops in Asia and Europe

“This option,” according to the bipartisan Sustainable Defense Task Force, “would cap routine U.S. military presence in Europe and Asia at 100,000 personnel, which is 26 percent below the current level and 33 percent below the level planned for the future. All told, 50,000 personnel would be withdrawn.” The option would also reduce the standing size of the military as the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan wind down. 2015 Savings 25 billion 2030 Savings 49 Billion.

Reduce Navy and Air Force fleets

Under this option, the Navy would build 48 fewer ships and retire 37 more ships than now scheduled. Overall, the battle fleet would shrink to 230 ships, from 286. In addition, the Air Force would retire two tactical fighter wings and reduce the number of fighter jets it planned to purchase

2015 Savings 19 Billion 2030 Savings 24 Billion

Cancel or delay some weapons programs

This option would cancel the purchase of some expensive equipment, like the F35 fighter jet and MV-22 Osprey, with less expensive equipment that the bipartisan Sustainable Defense Task Force judged to have similar capability. It would delay other purchases. Research and development spending, which the task force considered a relic of the cold war arms race, would be reduced. 2015 savings 19 Billion 2030 Savings 18 billion

Reduce noncombat military compensation and overhead

Would change health-care plan for veterans who had not been wounded in battle. Premiums, which have not risen in a decade, would rise. More veterans would receive health insurance from employer. This option would also take some benefits, like housing allowances, into account when tying military raises to civilian pay raises. Currently, increases in those benefits come on top of pay raises. The military would also reduce the length and frequency of combat tours. No unit or person will be sent to a combat zone for longer than a year, and they will not be sent back involuntarily without spending at least two years at home. 2015 savings 23 Billion 2030 Savings 51 Billion

Reduce the number of troops in Iraq and Afghanistan to 60,000 by 2015

Reduce the number of troops in Iraq and Afghanistan to 60,000 by 2015 Today, the United States military has 100,000 troops in Afghanistan and 50,000 in Iraq. The Obama Administration plans to reduce these numbers in coming years but has not specified troop levels. Defense and budget experts say this 60,000 option would be faster than what is now planned. The savings is the difference between the administration's projected spending and the spending under this option. 2015 Savings 51 Billion 2030 Savings 149 Billion.

Reduce the tax break for employer-provided health insurance

This option would reduce the tax break for employer-provided health insurance, by slowly adjusting the cap, so that it increases at the rate of economic growth, rather than the growth in health costs – which tends to be significantly faster. Over time, more employer spending on health insurance would be taxed. 2015 Savings 41 billion 2030 Savings 157 Billion

Cap Medicare growth starting in 2013

This option would cap the Medicare growth at G.D.P. growth plus 1 percentage point, starting in 2013. Among other things, this would crack down on many hospitals and doctors with the highest costs. 2015 Savings 29 Billion 2030 Savings 562 Billion.

Return the estate tax to Clinton-era levels

Under President Bill Clinton, the estate tax exempted $1 million from any taxable estate. This level would not grow with inflation over time, subjecting more estates to the tax. The rate would start at 18 percent and climb to 55 percent, as it did in the 1990s. The 55 percent rate would begin at $3 million. If Congress takes no action, this would become law on Jan. 1, 2011. 2015 Savings 50 Billion 2030 Savings 104 Billion

Return rates to Clinton-era levels

This option would return rates to their level under President Bill Clinton: 10 percent on capital gains for low-income households and 20 percent for everyone else, while dividends would again be taxed at the same rate as ordinary income. 2015 Savings 32 Billion 2030 savings 46 Billion.

Repeal tax rates for income above $250,000 a year

This option would repeal retroactively to Jan. 1, of the Bush tax cuts for the top 2 percent or so of households on the income distribution – those making $250,000 or more. On average, the change would equal about 2 percent of a given household’s pretax income. 2015 savings 54 Billion 2030 savings 115 billion.

Repeal tax rates for income below $250,000 a year

This option would repeal retroactively to Jan. 1, of the Bush tax cuts for the bottom 98 percent or so of households on the income distribution – those making $250,000 or less. On average, the change would equal about 2 percent of a given household’s pretax income. 2015 savings 172 Billion 2030 savings 252 Billion

Payroll tax: Subject some incomes above $106,000 to tax

When the payroll tax – which finances Social Security and Medicare – was created, it covered 90 percent of all income. Today, with a ceiling at $106,800, it covers closer to 80 percent. This option would gradually raise the ceiling, until 90 percent of income was again subject to the tax. 2015 Savings 50 Billion 2030 Savings 100 Billion

So the projected 2015 shorfall was 418 billion, these budget changes would bring in 655 billion, resulting in a surplus of 237 billion. In 2030, the projected shortfall was 1.345 billion, and the revenue brought in with the 1.761 billion, resulting in a surplus of 416 billion.

While not everyone would be in agreement with what I propose, it does turn things around financially, spreading the sacrifice equally among our citizens. This is how adults do things.

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Dear Mr. Obama,
Hire this sheepdog!
Oesheepdog, you're hired! What's so difficult that they can't come up with a program like that?

I will add that in my own case with a small business it would affect me more to not be able to deduct health insurance for employees compared with some large corporation with a gazillion dollars on hand.
Save the cheerleader,
Save the world..
yes hire him!!
Rated with hugs
Balance the budget. I have to do it, why not government. I'll vote for ya.
I am always amazed how smart a sheepdog can be.
rated with love
Good list. My add: get our troops out of Europe and Japan. What the hell are they doing there? Save a bundle--WWII is over.
This is wonderful...you make it sound so easy...but, actually it is - if someone in power put their priorities in the right places and used some common sense. Well done.
Cranky -- It will never happen

John -- I know that this means we all have to sacrifice. The pain is spread across virtually everyone.

Linda-- Thanks

Red Nose -- I understand.

RP -- thanks

Leon -- I'm with you...or at least start charging those countries for the services we provide, on a cost plus basis.

Kate -- It is fairly when common sense is applied. Politicians tend to leave that when they enter office.
Exactly! I agree with CC.
Best Wishes,
I can see why this got an EP. You're the smartest dog I know--of any breed.
If the government contract mentions "Halliburton" or "Xe Services" (fka Blackwater), the contract is immediately declared null and void.

I applaud you on your choices. When our defense budget is nearly equal to the rest of the world's combined, we need to cut it.
Neil Paul -- perhaps it's in my DNA, but I have always felt that the needs of the young and the poor should never be jeopardized at the expense of the rich and powerful. That may make me, and some eyes, a liberal. But it also sounds like this Jewish guy I've heard of named Jesus. Sort of sounds like his philosophy, too.

Blittie -- I don't think this would be possible because the president only hires Ivy League graduates; which accounts for the groupthink and his administration.

Sarah -- I'm about as imperfect as the next dog.

Stim -- isn't it interesting that no member of Congress tried to make a name for him or herself by going after war profiteers.
OE, is it just a matter of campaign contributions? Or contributions to your next election opponent? Politically, taking on war profiteers should be one of the easiest soap boxes to stand on. If nothing else, the politician and staff could read Arthur Miller's "All My Sons" to learn how to argue the point.
I think I voted for the wrong man
i'd love to know what your congressperson and senators think of this, sheepie. you ought to send it along and see. i was reading it with an eye toward my local politicians (from this big SoCal city where the economy is still very dependent on military spending) complaining about the effect on their particular territory. it's always about whose ox is being gored, isn't it? excellent work. everybody should have to sacrifice.
Unbelievably stupid. We need our military to keep our freedoms and our peace. (Have you looked at the Middle East and the Muslims nations lately?) More taxes to the private sector trying to insure employees while so many of them cannot, lunacy. More taxes to the private sector trying to start businesses and create jobs. Do you know how hard that is?
Check out my cuts to the federal budget at www.thecheapcountrywoman.com
yours are not working
I balanced the budget without raising taxes by cutting all military spending the NYT would let me cut. I simplified the tax code as much as possible, removing any deductions, exemptions or other silliness.

Voila, balanced budget, without real pain.
You've got my vote, Sheepie. Bite a few ankles on behalf of all sensible people when you get to Washington, okay? Shared benefits and shared responsibilities are the way to go.

emphatically rated.
OE, just getting to this now. It's too late to properly check your numbers but I didn't see any howlers. You make it seem easier than I thought. And since I thought it was impossible in my boomer lifetime, I'm impressed. Good work here.
I have a better way. Cut all programs that the US Constitution does not allow for the feds to pay for and only fund what it does.

Cut tax rates as low as possible to, as JFK knew, stimulate revenue FOR the government. (It has been proven to work no matter how counter-intuitive it may seem, as JFK also said.)

Encourage all lectures, taped appearances, books etc., by Milton Friedman be read by all government economists, but make them pay for the books themselves. Same for Salonistas.
Do you know what I call this?

a start.

I keep thinking that it would be great to go waaaaaaay back to when Jimmy Carter was first elected and tried to impose "Zero Base Budgeting" in the federal government. It didn't really work. You can arguably do it at the state level but at the federal level all you'd end up doing would be budgeting and even less work would get done than now. Besides, it would be the proverbial effort to "herd cats". But, wouldn't it be nice! Even an 80% base budget process.
I balanced the budget, too. It took me no more than 10 minutes. Of course, I wasn't having to deal with all the personalities and politics.
all I want is my social security check so I can live the life of leisure...
Now we just have to get you elected. rated